Holiday Toy Safety

Monday, December 10, 2012

As the holidays approach, parents and caregivers should be mindful of the gifts they provide for their children. With hundreds of thousands of toys on the market, it’s not easy to ensure that you’re always buying a safe product. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website should be checked often to make sure toys have not been recalled for any reason, and reading the packaging on the toy before purchase to check for any potential hazards is also important for a child’s safety.

Some concerns that parents should be cautious of this holiday season are choking, strangulation, noise, and lead content. A number of toys include small pieces that children can choke on or cords that can be deadly if wrapped around the neck. Parents should remove any loose or dangling parts from a toy before presenting it to a child, and put those parts out of the child’s reach. Parents should ensure that toys are not too loud for small children, as their ears are very sensitive and loud noises could potentially cause long tern hearing damage. The threat of lead exposure has always been a factor when purchasing toys for children. If buying art supplies, such as crayons and paint, the product labels should be read to guarantee they have been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Toys are supposed to be fun and are an important part of every child’s development. They should reflect the child’s skill level as well as be age appropriate. Most toys have an age level printed on the box that can help parents or caregivers determine if it would be suitable for their particular child. A child’s habits, such as putting things in their mouths, should also be considered.

Think age-appropriately in terms of electronic games as well. There are some games on the market that are not only graphically violent, but also include very graphic scenes of a sexual nature. Be sure to read warning labels and game ratings, but also remember to ask questions about the game’s content so that your child can be protected. We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season!

U.S. Product Safety Commission

November is National Diabetes Month

Monday, November 12, 2012

Parents whose children have diabetes face special challenges. Here are some tips from the American Diabetes Association to help you handle some of the communication challenges:

There is a fine line between caring and nagging – between showing concern and hovering. How do you achieve the balance? The following are some ways for talking with your child about diabetes.

• Use words and tones that aren't angry or judgmental. Certain words or ways of asking questions can send scary vibes or hurtful vibes to your children. Think about the words you use. For example, use "high" instead of "bad" BG. Take care not to blame or nag your child as you help him manage his diabetes.

• Listen. It's sometimes hard to do, but it's important to ask probing questions and listen closely to your child's responses.

• React calmly. Kids remember your responses and often try to avoid a negative reaction in the future. When your child has a high BG or forgets to bolus, stay calm. Focus on the solution and move on.

• Beware of negative facial expressions. Try not to look disappointed or frightened when you see a BG reading outside of the target range. Your child can read your facial expressions, and he may feel that you are disappointed in him or fearful when it is too low or high.

• Share your feelings. If your child understands how worried you get, then he might better understand why you ask so many questions.

• Set realistic expectations. Mistakes will happen and perfection is impossible in managing diabetes. If you believe this, your child will too, and you won't be so hard on each other. When you set unrealistic goals, your child may hide things from you. For example, expecting perfect blood glucose levels is not realistic. BG levels aren't always controllable but the goal is to keep them as close to the target range while adjusting for life as it happens.

• Ask for honesty – no matter what. Let your child know that you want to hear the truth. If he feels he did something he shouldn't have, telling you right away is the best option. Be curious about what happened. Work together to solve the problem.

• Empathize. Put yourself in your child's shoes. Try to imagine how your child is feeling. These feelings may range from fear, sadness, and anger to denial, burnout and even guilt for causing you so much worry.

• Keep an open-door policy. Tell your child that you're open to hearing ideas and complaints – any time, any place. Reassure him that if he has anything on his mind, he should come and talk with you. You want to listen and help when you can.

Happy "Safe" Halloween

Monday, October 29, 2012

The excitement of Halloween night can make it more challenging to keep children safe. Little ones may have a harder time listening to parents and caregivers directions and remembering basic safety rules. That is why is it so important to keep a close watch over your children when they are out trick-or-treating.
Talk with your kids a few times before the big night to go over rules and safety precautions that need to be followed while you are out trick-or-treating. Be sure to remind them again before you head out the door with them.

Trick-or-Treating Safety  
  1. Always go with your kids when they are out trick-or-treating
  2. Parents and children should use flashlights.
  3. Stick to neighborhoods that are well-lit and familiar to you.
  4. Stay on the sidewalks or walk single file where there is no sidewalk.
  5. Walk against not the traffic in the same direction as it.
  6. Take your kids out early before it gets too dark.
  7. Remind your kids not to go into any houses.
Candy and Costumes 
  1. Be sure your kids can see clearly while wearing their masks.
  2. Be sure your kids can move easily in their costumes.
  3. Avoid dark colors. Apply reflective tape to costumes.
  4. Check candy carefully before allowing your kids to eat it.
  5. Throw away any candy with open/torn wrappers or looks suspicious.
  6. Do not give out or let your kids eat candy that is not in a sealed wrapper.

National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 22–26, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Schools around the country will recognize 2012 School Bus Safety Week, celebrating the theme: "I see the driver - the driver sees me."

Studies have proven that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus. Remember to pay close attention to school buses when you see them driving on the street and teach children how to be safe when boarding and exiting the bus.

From winding country roads to busy city streets, school bus drivers carry the most precious cargo: our children. School bus drivers, mechanics and other school transportation personnel are the safest and most qualified in the state. They also care about the kids and the community. Bus drivers know that parents want the peace of mind that comes from trusting the person behind the wheel of the big yellow bus. School bus drivers volunteer for more training than any other drivers in the state, and they are all required to pass an extensive background check before they receive a license to drive a school bus.

Here are a few tips for School Bus Safety:

• Some older youth or adult needs to be watching out for little ones waiting for the bus or coming home from the school. Staying in groups make everyone be seen and safer around strangers or other folks trying to give them rides. Remind them to never get in a vehicle, unless it's their caregiver.

• Kids need to be reminded about the dangerous blind spots surrounding a bus (by the bus driver).

• They need to be reminded about how important it is to stay on the sidewalk or 10 feet (5 Giant Steps) away from the road.

• To never pick something up that may have fallen, until the bus driver says it's safe to. (Balls that roll into the street, or papers falling out of the backpack.)

• Kids need to be shown turning your head LEFT AND RIGHT at driveways, alleys and other streets, for cars.

• HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOTS are very dangerous. Talk to your older teens about walking and driving safely where there are so many inexperienced drivers.


• Never pass a bus on the right side. (that is where kids get out of the bus.)

• Never pass when the STOP arm is down.

• ALWAYS STOP when the arm is down, even in 4 lanes with no embankment in the median.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Monday, October 15, 2012

By Ruth Matsey

As we attempt to provide awareness about domestic violence and abuse, we are acutely conscious of the fact that children frequently live in these homes where abuse occurs. 15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. (Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 18(2): 166-185.)

Children who witness family violence are affected in ways similar to children who are physically abused. These children are affected by the abuse in a myriad of ways. The child’s reactions can vary depending on the child's gender, age, and the duration of the violence. Some children are remarkably resilient.

Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and/or behavioral problems than those who are not. Recent research indicates that children who witness domestic violence show more anxiety, low self esteem, depression, anger and temperament problems than children who do not witness violence in the home. The trauma they experience can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect their development and can continue into adulthood. (

No member of the family escapes the violence of abusive relationships. When families are under stress they create children who are also under stress. We cannot continue to separate child abuse and intimate partner abuse. They so frequently go hand in hand. Some children, especially infants and toddlers in their mother’s arms, are attacked when the abuser attempts to hurt the mother. Other times the abuser abuses the child as well as the mother.

At Phoenix House, our transitional home for women and their children who are fleeing domestic abuse, we have noticed a lot of behavior difficulties with the children of the victims. The children act out their frustrations and anger. They are finally in a safe place where advocates are able to help them deal with their problems.

A wealth of excellent information can be found by Googling Jeffrey Edleson and children and domestic violence. Dr. Edleson has conducted research for many years at the University of Minnesota. He is presently Dean and Professor at the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley.

Ruth Matsey is the President of the Starke County Coalition Against Domestic Abuse and Starke County Prevent Child Abuse.

No One Has To Abandon An Infant

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution.

A parent, family member, friend, minister or priest, social worker or any responsible person may give up custody of a baby less than 30 days old to an Indiana …


                                     ...Law Enforcement Officer




                                     …Emergency Medical Technician

                                     ...or Other Person who provides Emergency Medical Services

As long as there are no signs of intentional abuse on the baby, no information is required of the person leaving the baby. Any knowledge of the date of birth, race, parent medical history, child's health or anything that would be useful to the child's caregiver would be greatly appreciated.

Once the baby is examined and given medical treatment (if needed), the Indiana Department of Child Services will take the baby into custody through Child Protective Services where it will be placed with a caregiver.

Distressed parents can receive counseling and get addresses and directions for any hospital, fire station or police station in Indiana by calling the Safe Haven Hotline, 1-877-796-HOPE (4673), or 2-1-1.

Parents can learn more by visiting the National Safe Haven Alliance in Indiana website to get more information.

If you need more information about this or other parenting topics call 1-800-CHILDREN or visit our website at

Information from the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Happy National Children’s Health Month

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Since October is National Children’s Health Month we wanted to pass along some tips to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. Remember to always use common sense to keep yourself and others from getting sick this season.

• Wash hands frequently. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water (not hot) for at least 20 seconds when dirty, before eating and after toilet use. Suggestion: Sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice. Dry hands with a paper towel and use it to turn off the water tap and to turn the doorknob. Use alcohol based waterless cleanser between soap and water washings.

• Keep hands off the face. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent germs from entering your body.

• Avoid crowded conditions. They are ideal for the spread of the flu. Also, call your doctor first with non-emergent issues before going to his office or the emergency room. This reduces the risk of getting or spreading the flu.

• Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Do not use your hands. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and then wash your hands. If tissues are not cough or sneeze into the inside of the elbow.

• Stay home if sick. Do not return to school, day care, or work until at least 24 hours after no fever is present without the use of a fever reducer.

• Avoid contact with sick people. The CDC recommends staying at least six feet away from a sick person.

• Regularly clean toys and common areas (phones, remote controls, doorknobs and other handles, countertops.) Use a household disinfectant.

• Practice good healthy habits. Get plenty of rest, exercise, fluids, eat nutritious food and manage your stress.

• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Seek emergency medical care if the child:

• has difficulty breathing, fast breathing or chest pain

• has bluish or gray skin color or purple or blue discoloration of the lips

• has severe or persistent vomiting and is unable to keep liquids down

• has signs of dehydration (dizziness when standing, absence of urination, a lack of tears in crying infants)

• has seizures (i.e. uncontrolled convulsions)

• becomes confused, is not waking up or interacting

• has a high fever (higher than 100.4°F for infants under 2 months and higher than 102°F for other children)

• has a fever with a rash

flu symptoms improve but then returns with a fever or worse cough

• has other health conditions (heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma) and has flu like symptoms

This tip sheet was compiled from information borrowed from Advocates for Children of New Jersey website

October is National Bullying Safety Month

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of children’s lives probably since the beginning of time. However, what was once thought of as “just a part of childhood” is now seen as a very serious, and sometimes deadly, form of abuse. Adults, as well as peers, need to stand up to bullying, and intervene immediately when it is believed that bullying is occurring. More importantly, let’s find ways to prevent bullying from ever happening in the first place. Here are just a few tips to prevent, and respond, to bullying (including cyberbullying)

1. Understand that it is not a “rite of passage” for children to be bullied. It can have very long-term, even deadly, consequences…not just for the target of the bullying, but also for those who are witnessing it.

2. Pay attention to what is going on both at school and at home. If a child starts fearing going to school or to an activity, ask questions.

3. Have clear discipline policies at school or in sports activities, and make it understood that bullying will not be tolerated, and that there will be consequences, including for Cyberbullying.

4. Have a multi-layered approach for bullying prevention. Teachers, support staff, ALL school employees, parents, and children need to be made aware about what to look for in terms of bullying, and how to prevent it

5. Encourage youth to talk to an adult if they are being bullied, or if they know that bullying is occurring to a friend or classmate

6. Supervise children when they are on-line, and tell them to never pass along harmful information about others

7. Tell children to never give out personal information on-line.

8. Start teaching empathy at an early age (even from birth!) so that children will grow understanding how hurtful it is to harm or tease others.

9. Teach interpersonal skills (again, from an early age). Many children who bully lack the skills to make or keep friendships

10. Create opportunities for children to “do good”, especially children you know or suspect may be engaging in bullying behaviors.

Child Passenger Safety Week

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

U.S. DOT and Safe Kids Kick-off Child Passenger Safety Week With New Survey on Common Car Seat Mistakes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today joined National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland and Safe Kids President and CEO Kate Carr for the kick-off of Child Passenger Safety Week to remind parents and caregivers to make sure that they are properly using and installing their child safety seats. A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey shows that parents are making five significant mistakes when using car seats and booster seats. It also found that one in five parents do not read any instructions when installing seats.

“The key to keeping kids safe is to make sure your child is in the right seat for their age and size - and to make sure that the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of the many resources available to ensure you’ve done everything to properly protect your child.”

According to a new NHTSA survey, the following are the five most significant and commonly observed mistakes made by parents and caregivers when using and installing car seats and booster seats:

1. Wrong harness slot used - The harness straps used to hold the child in the car seat were positioned either too low or too high;

2. Harness chest clip positioned over the abdomen rather than the chest or not used at all;

3. Loose car seat installation - The restraint system moved more than two inches side-to-side or front to back; anything more than one inch is too much.

4. Loose harness - More than two inches of total slack between the child and the harness strap; there should be no slack.

5. Seat belt placement was wrong – Lap belt resting over the stomach and/or shoulder belt on the child’s neck or face.

The survey also revealed that 20 percent of all drivers of child passengers did not read any instructions on how to properly install their child restraints, yet 90 percent felt ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that their car seats and booster seats were installed correctly.

“Child safety seats save hundreds of young lives every year, but proper use is vital,” said Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why we’re urging everyone to make sure their kids are properly protected on every trip, every time.”

“Child safety seats can significantly reduce the risk of death or injury in the event of a crash,” said Kate Carr. “Engineers are working hard to ensure cars and car seats are designed to keep kids as safe as possible. But it’s up to every parent to take full advantage of these innovations by making sure car seats are used and installed correctly. Safe Kids and NHTSA are teaming up to show them how.”

To help parents ensure their child seats are installed and used correctly, Safe Kids and NHTSA are encouraging everyone to take 15 minutes to conduct an at-home checkup using the following Safe Kids downloadable checklist:

• Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.

• Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13. Doing this, along with correctly using the appropriate child restraints, greatly reduces the risk of injury.

• Right Direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.

• Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

• Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

Parents are encouraged to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals in addition to following the checklist.

Child Passenger Safety Week began September 16 and culminates September 22 with National Seat Check Saturday. Throughout the week, Safe Kids will host hundreds of child seat inspections across the country as part of its Buckle Up Program, a national initiative established 15 years ago to keep children and families safe in and around cars. Car seat inspections offer drivers the chance to receive assistance and guidance from certified car seat technicians regarding proper installation of their child safety and booster seats.

For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, visit

For more information on Safe Kids Worldwide, visit

To view NHTSA’s Research Note on the National Child Restraint Use Special Study, click here.

Using Back Packs Safely

Monday, August 27, 2012

Backpacks are handy for carrying books-and lots of other things. But if they’re not used right, they can strain muscles and even cause back pain.

Backpack safety is important for everyone. It's especially important for children, who can be hurt by regularly carrying too much weight or by not wearing their backpacks safely.

Choose the right backpack

Look for these features:

• Light weight. Leather backpacks may look nice, but other materials, like canvas or nylon, weigh less.

• Wide, padded shoulder straps. A loaded pack will dig into shoulders if the straps are too skinny.

• Waist belt. This is an important feature. It takes some weight off of the back and transfers it to the hips.

• Handy compartments, the more the better. They help distribute the weight evenly. They also make packs easier to organize.

• Padded back. This keeps sharp edges from digging into the back.

• Wheels. These are nice if you or your child needs to carry a lot. But check with your child's school to make sure they’re allowed. Remember that these packs will still have to be carried up stairs. And they can get messy when pulled through mud or snow.

Pack it safely

• Experts say a child shouldn’t carry more than 15% to 20% of his or her weight. Don’t guess-use your bathroom scale to weigh the loaded pack.

• Pack the heaviest items closest to the back. Packs with compartments make this easier to do.

• Talk to your child about using his or her locker to keep from carrying everything around all day.

Lift it safely

• Never bend down from the waist to pick up or set down a heavy pack.

• Always squat down, bending at the knee and keeping your back straight.

• If you need to, you can put one knee on the floor and the other knee in front of you while you lift the pack and swing it around to your back.

Wear it safely

• Pack wearers should use both shoulder straps. It may seem easier or more comfortable to sling the pack over just one shoulder, but that’s a bad habit that can lead to back or shoulder pain.

• Always use the waist belt and tighten all the straps so the pack fits snugly.

• Make sure your child stands up straight while wearing a backpack. If he or she must lean forward, the pack is too heavy.

• If your child is having back pain or neck soreness, talk to your doctor. Encourage your children to tell you about any pain or soreness.

Extra tips for hikers

• Hikers can carry a lot more weight in their packs. But it's still important to follow some safety tips:

• In the weeks before a big hike, use stretching and strengthening exercises to get your muscles in shape, especially your trunk.

• Stand up straight while wearing your pack. It may seem easier to lean forward because you don’t have to use your muscles as much. But it’s bad for your back, because you’re making your spine do all the work.

• Learn several ways to lift a heavy backpack. For example:

• Face the back of your pack, with its shoulder straps facing you. With your knees slightly bent and one leg forward, slide the pack up to your thigh. Put one arm through its shoulder strap and swing the pack onto your back.

• Have a friend hold the pack for you while you insert your arms into the straps.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

11 Tips for Kindergarten Parents

Monday, August 20, 2012

Becoming involved in your child’s education pays off in many ways. Parent involvement strengthens schools and shows children that you value learning. Research shows that students whose parents are involved in their education are more likely to earn higher grades, score better on standardized tests, and attend college.

What’s more, you’ll benefit directly by taking an active role. You’ll meet other parents and quickly learn the ins and outs of your child’s school. Read on for some ways to become active and make a difference in your child’s education.

1. Start early. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. You don’t have to wait until parent-teacher conferences to get to know your kindergartner’s teacher. Sometime during the first week or so of school, find a moment to say a quick hello. Or send a handwritten note or a personal email. Ask the teacher whether there is anything she needs. Find out how the teacher prefers to be contacted. This will set a positive tone for the year.

2. Help out in the classroom. Most kindergarten teachers welcome help from enthusiastic parents. What you do in the classroom will depend on what the teacher needs. It may include preparing materials for lessons and art projects, reading to students, or making copies of worksheets. If you’re unable to commit to a regular schedule, let your child’s teacher know that you still would like to help out with special projects.

3. Become a room parent. Many kindergarten teachers assign one or two parents to plan class parties and other special activities and to coordinate communication between the teacher and the parents. Being a room parent is generally a yearlong assignment, so make sure you can commit to it. It’s a great way to get to know the teacher!

4. Volunteer from home. If you can’t make it into the classroom during the day, let the teacher know you’d like to help out in other ways. You could make phone calls to other parents in the evening, help prepare materials for lessons, and more. Bringing your volunteer ethic home shows your child that school is important. It will also help strengthen your connection with the teacher.

5. Be a special guest. Visit your child’s classroom to share something special about yourself, such as your occupation, your cultural background, or an interesting hobby. Your child will be proud to let everyone know you’re her parent!

6. Learn about your child’s school. Read the school handbook to learn about school policies. Stay informed by reading school and parent-teacher group newsletters. If the school has a website, check it regularly for updates and information.

7. Reach out to other parents. Look for opportunities to get to know the parents of your child’s classmates. Volunteer to chaperone field trips. Attend class parties and assemblies. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself, and be sure to exchange phone numbers and email addresses. The other parents will be an invaluable support system during the first year of school and beyond.

8. Attend school events. Make it a point to go to assemblies, open houses, art shows, and other schoolwide events, even ones your child isn’t directly involved with. School events are a great place to meet staff members and other parents, and going together will help your child feel more at home in his new school.

9. Talk with your child about school. When your child comes home from school, ask specific questions to draw her out. Instead of saying “How was your day?” ask “What was the best thing that happened today at school?” and “Tell me one new thing that you learned today in kindergarten.”

10. Show him that school matters. Praise your child’s efforts. Show him how wonderful his schoolwork is by posting artwork and school papers on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Communicate the idea, in both words and actions, that school is important.

11. Join the PTO or PTA. Your school parent group is a terrific way to learn about your child’s school. You’ll forge lasting connections with the parents you meet, and you’ll have a role in making your child’s school a fun and exciting place to learn.

See more information at

Attachment Parenting for Young Ones

Monday, August 6, 2012

Attachment Parenting is a style of parenting that many parents and professionals believe is best for both caregiver and baby. It stresses the importance of touch, nurturing, seeing to a baby’s cries and other positive discipline options like distracting, redirecting and guiding a child.

Attachment Parenting’s main theory is that when children’s needs are met in a positive and consistent manner by a caregiver early in life, they learn to trust and thrive…and grow!

Many believe the earlier in a child’s life this attachment begins, the better. Of course an infant relies on a caregiver for almost all of their needs. Brain development, and therefore all growth and development, rely on such supportive, nurturing behaviors.

Beware of placing infants on a prescribed “feeding schedule,” rather feed them when they are hungry. Beware too of the old wives tale that babies can be spoiled if they’re picked-up “too often”. If children don’t have this trust and bonding early, they may not learn to form healthy attachments later in life. They may suffer from insecurity, lack of empathy, and in extreme cases, anger and attachment disorders.

This is a general overview of the main ideas of Attachment Parenting. Lately there have been concerns which need to be considered, like:

Babies should not sleep in an adult bed…it is far too dangerous. Rollovers or suffocations are a major concern. Babies can have a bassinet or crib close.

The bottom line is that all types of secure attachment are vital for physical, emotional, moral, and social development of children.

Carol Cochard Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

The Importance of Childhood Immunizations

Monday, July 30, 2012

Disease Prevention--Protect Those Around You

Disease prevention is the key to public health. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country, including polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella (German measles), mumps, and tetanus.

Parents are constantly concerned about the health and safety of their children and take many steps to protect them. These steps range from child-proof door latches to child safety seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. While the U.S. currently has record, or near record, low cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist. Even diseases that have been eliminated in this country, such as polio, are only a plane ride away. Polio, and other infectious diseases, can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.

Why are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

• It's true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

• If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight it. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, but these same germs still exist. Babies are now protected by vaccines, however, so we do not see these diseases as often.

• Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.

Why Immunize? For Parents

Why immunize our children? Sometimes we are confused by the messages in the media. First we are assured that, thanks to vaccines, some diseases are almost gone from the U.S. But we are also warned to immunize our children.

It's true that some diseases are becoming very rare in the U.S. Of course, they are becoming rare largely because we have been vaccinating against them. Keep immunizing until disease is eliminated.

Unless we can eliminate the disease, it is important to keep immunizing. Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination more and more people will be infected and will spread diseases to others. Soon we will undo the progress we have made over the years.

We vaccinate to protect our future.

We don't vaccinate just to protect our children. We also vaccinate to protect our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Our children don't have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. If we keep vaccinating now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and meningitis won't infect, cripple, or kill children. Vaccinations are one of the best ways to put an end to the serious effects of certain diseases.

Source: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Reprinted with permission


Monday, July 23, 2012


Many parents have no idea that teens are abusing these products. But 1 in 25 eighth graders abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies in the past year. (1)
Like prescription drugs, OTC’ s are often found at home. In many areas, teens can buy them at stores, quite easily.

But that doesn’t mean they’re safe to use without proper supervision. Teens underestimate the dangers of abusing OTC drugs. Many contain Dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant, which can cause delusions, loss of consciousness, and even death when taken in excessive amounts. And taking these drugs with alcohol can make the effects even more dangerous.

Parents can help stop abuse of these products with three steps:

1. Safeguard your prescription AND OTC drugs, especially those containing DXM. Monitor quantities and control access. Ask friends and family to do the same.

2. Properly conceal and dispose of old or unused meds in the trash.

3. Talk to your kids about the dangers. Set clear rules for teens about all drug and alcohol use, including never taking medicine without permission and always following proper dosages. And be a good ROLE MODEL when it comes to these issues.

Watch for warning signs your teen is using, such as empty bottles or packages and behavior changes, such as mood swings, or changes in appetite or sleep habits.

***Slang Terms Teens are using to describe cough and cold remedies:

DXM                            SKITTLES

ROBO                          TRIPLE C

SYRUP                         RED DEVILS



You can help keep your teen safe and drug-free. To learn more about OTC drug abuse and what you can do to stop it, visit: or call 1-800-788-2800


(1)2007 Monitoring the Future Study, U. of Michigan, Nat’l Instit. On Drug Abuse

Office of Nat’l Drug Control Policy

Little Things Mean a Lot

Friday, July 13, 2012

His name was Mr. Lowry. He had red hair, cut in the typical flat-top style of the 1960s. The severe haircut could not hide his kind nature or his twinkling blue eyes. Nevertheless, I was a little afraid of him. I was a second grader and he was the principal of Ligonier Elementary School. Even our teachers, who seemed fearless to me, were deferential to him. He was a Very Important Person.

I had been struggling with math. My teacher spent extra time working with me, and had assigned extra work for me to take home. My mother made sure I got it done. Today the teacher was going to pass back our most recent math test.

Suddenly Mr. Lowry entered the room, with a small smile on his face. My teacher smiled back at him. It was as though they shared a delightful secret. He joined my teacher at the front of the room and took one of the test papers from her. I realized his blue eyes were twinkling at…me!

“Mary, would you come to the front of the class, please?” The other students began to giggle. I was quiet and awkward, sometimes the subject of cruel jokes. Mr. Lowry shot the class a look that silenced them.

As I stepped to the front of the classroom, Mr. Lowry spoke. “Mary has been working really hard on her math problems. She’s been doing extra work and giving her best. I wanted to come here today, Mary, to give you your last test because your grade improved a LOT!”

He showed the class my test paper. At the top was a big red “A.”

Mr. Lowry and my teacher began to clap, and the other students joined them. And then, the principal of Ligonier Elementary School, a Very Important Person, leaned down and hugged me. He whispered, “I am so proud of you.”

I beamed all the way back to my seat. The rest of the day I was in a delighted haze.

I was seven years old when Mr. Lowry hugged me and told me he was proud of me. That was almost fifty years ago, and I can remember it like it happened yesterday. I’m sure he was a busy man. There always seemed to be a line of students and teachers waiting to see him. No doubt he had a ton of paperwork waiting and phone calls to return to other Very Important People. But Mr. Lowry took five minutes to encourage a child, and it has made a huge difference in my life to this very day.

July is national “Make a Difference to Children” Month. It’s a time to remember the adults who made a difference for us when we were young. It’s also a time to consider what we can do to make a difference for the children around us. Sometimes even little things can make a big impact. Here are some ideas:

• Commit to do one special thing with a child in July—make some kind of positive difference for that child.

• Support an organization that focuses on children—there are many to choose from.

• Communicate with your elected leaders to make children a priority in policy and budget issues they address.

I doubt that Mr. Lowry felt like a Very Important Person. But he was to my classmates and me. You are probably a Very Important Person to the children around you. This month—and every month—take some time to make a difference.

Contributed by Mary Armstrong-Smith, PCAIN Community Partners Director

4th of July Safety

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With very hot weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.  Many counties in Indiana have banned the use of fireworks.  To see Fourth of July celebrations in central Indiana for 2012:

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit (982° Celsius) — hot enough to melt gold.

Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

Never try to make your own fireworks.

Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.

Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!

Taken from:

July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

Monday, June 25, 2012

Did you know…

  • At least 91% of Americans own cell phones  
  • There are more than 285 million cell phones in use in the U.S.  
  • 3 out of 10 people prefer cell phones over landlines

While a majority of us experience a range of rude behaviors on a daily basis, the one transgression that seems to occur most often is accompanied by a ring tone: People talking on cell phones, in public places, in a loud or annoying manner.

  If you agree that cell phone rudeness is on the rise and would like to help eradicate this growing epidemic, please spread the word about National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Here are some helpful tips to share.

  1. Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, it’s best to put your phone on silent mode.
  2. Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.
  3. Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.
  4. Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you don’t disrupt your surroundings.
  5. Avoid “cell yell.” Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don’t recognize how distracting they can be to others.
  6. Follow the rules. Some places, such as some restaurants or courtrooms, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.
  7. Excuse yourself. If you’re expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you’re with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
  8. Send a text message when you want to send a quick message. But remember not to text while having a conversation with another person. It’s important to give others, especially clients and customers, your full, undivided attention.
  9. Watch and listen discreetly. Multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. Use earphones to avoid distracting others in public areas.
  10. Don’t text and drive. Don’t put your life or those of others at risk. Pull over if you absolutely must send a message or wait until you reach your destination.

Borrowed from JacquelineWhitmore's Blog.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Monday, June 18, 2012

How can you know what to expect of your child at what age? If you ask your child to put the forks on the left side of the plate, does she know what you mean and is she physically able to do it? If not, take a step back. Maybe you'll simply start by having your child get the silverware to the table. The point is, he says, you want an immediate payoff for you and your child.

Dividing household chores and getting them done isn't always easy, but there are ways to make chores feel a little less like work. Most parents, however, underestimate what their kids are able to do. "Keep in mind that a child who has mastered a complicated computer game can easily run the dishwasher." In general preschoolers can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more.

And, as your children grow up and get busy, don't let them off the hook. Tell them, "I hope you get so quick with your chores that they don't interfere with everything else."

Here is a sample of chores provided that will work for many children in these age groups.

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

• Put toys away.

• Fill pet's food dish.

• Put clothes in hamper.

• Wipe up spills.

• Dust.

• Pile books and magazines.

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

• Make own bed.

• Empty wastebaskets.

• Bring in mail or newspaper.

• Clear table.

• Pull weeds.

• Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs.

• Water flowers.

• Unload utensils from dishwasher.

• Wash plastic dishes at sink.

• Fix bowl of cereal.

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

• Sort laundry.

• Sweep floors.

• Set and clear table.

• Help make and pack lunch.

• Weed and rake leaves.

• Keep bedroom tidy.

• Pour own drinks.

• Answer telephone.

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

• Load dishwasher.

• Put away groceries.

• Vacuum.

• Help make dinner.

• Make own snacks.

• Wash table after meals.

• Put away own laundry.

• Sew buttons.

• Make own breakfast.

• Peel vegetables.

• Cook simple foods, such as toast.

• Mop floor.

• Take pet for a walk.

Chores for children ages 10 and older

Any of the above chores, plus:

• Unload dishwasher.

• Fold laundry.

• Clean bathroom.

• Wash windows.

• Wash car.

• Cook simple meal with supervision.

• Iron clothes.

• Do laundry.

• Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home).

• Mow lawn.

• Clean kitchen.

• Clean oven.

• Change bed.

• Make cookies or cake from a mix.

Taken from

America Kids Sports Month!

Monday, June 11, 2012

June is Sports America Kids Month! The beginning of summer is the perfect time to think about how good sports are for kids. Is your child involved in a sport? The most important thing to remember about kids and sports is that kids aren't in it to win! Sure, winning is exciting, but playing on a team that loses all the time is a lot more fun than sitting on the bench for a team that always wins! If a child is involved in a sport that they enjoy, the benefits are enormous! Sports offer kids physical fitness, increased confidence and self-esteem, self-discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, coordination, and a lot more! As they get older it stops being fun when they are pressured to be superstars. Being scolded by their parents or coaches for less-than-perfect performance takes all the joy out of playing. And, with all that pressure, children do not continue to gain the self-esteem, confidence, and other great qualities that they did when they were just playing for fun! Here are some keys to keeping the fun in sports, no matter what age your children are. 1. With younger kids, around preschool age, don't bother trying to get them to learn all the rules of the sport. Concentrate on the physical skills, like kicking, throwing, running, etc. Kids who are just learning to count don't need to worry about how to keep score! As kids get older, they can begin to learn the actual rules of the game. 2. Don't pressure kids to perfect their skills at sports. It can be fun for kids to learn and try a new move, like a corner kick or a tricky pitch... but they don't need to do it perfectly. 3. Outside of organized sports, encourage kids to play impromptu sports games with their friends afterschool or on the weekends. 4. If a child gets injured while playing a sport, don't pressure them to keep on playing while they're still in pain. They're just kids, not professional athletes! 5. Praise your kids for their good effort. You don't have to go overboard and tell your kid he's the best player on the team! But little praises like, "Nice swing," or "way to hustle," can go a long way! 6. Kids have to sit and pay attention all day at school. Don't get angry with them for daydreaming in the outfield! 7. After a game, ask kids questions like, "What was the best part of the game?" and "Did you have fun?" 8. Encourage kids to try out a variety of sports, and let them decide which ones they like. Little Tommy's dad or big brother might have been the best players on their baseball teams, but if Tommy is interested in football, hockey, or gymnastics, then let him do those things instead! So lets all be good sports, and let our kids have fun!

Potty Awareness Month

Monday, June 4, 2012

Potty training is a major milestone. Get the facts on timing, technique and handling the inevitable accidents. Potty training is a big step for kids and parents alike. The secret to success? Patience — perhaps more patience than you ever imagined. Is it time? Potty-training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many kids show interest in potty training by age 2, but others might not be ready until age 2 1/2 or even older — and there's no rush. If you start potty training too early, it might take longer to train your child. Is your child ready? Ask yourself these questions: • Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear? • Can your child understand and follow basic directions? • Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he or she needs to go? • Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day? • Does your child complain about wet or dirty diapers? • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again? • Can your child sit on and rise from a potty chair? If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready for potty training. If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait awhile — especially if your child has recently faced or is about to face a major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes potty training today might be open to the idea in a few months. Taken from

“Get Caught Reading” Month

Monday, May 21, 2012

Learning to read changed my life forever. Even before I was old enough to attend school, I would “pretend read” books I found around our house, longing for the day I could understand the words on the page. My first grade teacher, Doris Alber, opened that door for me. By second grade I was a regular at our local library, often losing myself for an entire afternoon in a book. To this day I still get lost in books, and what a lovely way to get lost! Research shows that early language experience helps kids’ brains to grow. Reading to very young children helps them to absorb the sound and structure of language. They can begin to make those vital connections between language and communication. The poet and writer James Baldwin said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Kids who see the adults around them reading (and enjoying it) are more likely to be eager readers themselves. On the other hand, if reading is seen as a chore to be avoided, kids will pick up on that cue as well. Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is Get Caught Reading month, but the campaign is promoted throughout the year. Get Caught Reading is supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Launched in 1999, "Get Caught Reading" is the brainchild of former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP, the industry association representing book publishers. She saw the opportunity to spread the word about the joys of reading through an industry-supported literacy campaign. So what can you do to promote reading? Here are a few ideas: • Read to children from the time they are born! The sound of your voice helps little brains grow. • Find books and magazines that are fun and interesting for you. Let the kids in your life see you enjoy reading. You can influence them without saying a word. • Get familiar with your local library. Take your kids there regularly. If you need suggestions for reading material for the kids, ask the library staff. They are always happy to help. • Talk with your kids about the books they are reading. Find out what excites them. • Take time to act out favorite books with your kids, using puppets, dolls or yourselves as the actors. For more information on Get Caught Reading, go to

May is Family Wellness Month!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Positive Thinking/Positive Self Talk…legacies we want to leave with our children!
Whether or not you’re naturally a “half empty or full” kind of person, there are real benefits to trying to be positive! It doesn’t mean you stick your head in the sand and deny life’s yucky times. It just means you attempt to approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. And, pessimists take note: you can learn positive thinking skills! For one, changing your self-talk; that stream of messages we say to ourselves, (or repeat someone else’s messages to ourselves.) These thoughts can be positive or negative. You have the power to change them to become more positive. Here’s one from my recent past: My techno-savvy friends often tease me about my “user-errors,” due to “my slow to embrace” technology usage. It’s OK, I say to myself as I laugh along, I’m more of a “people-person” and that suits me just fine. HEALTH BENEFITS OF POSITIVE THINKING *increased life span *lower rates of depression *lower levels of distress *better psychological & physical well-being *greater resistance to the common cold *reduced risk of death from cardio. disease *better coping skills during hardships/stress FOCUSING ON POSITIVE THINKING *Identify areas to change. Think of areas of your life which you feel negative, and work on one area at a time. *Check yourself daily. *Be open to humor/acting silly/laughing. *Follow a healthy lifestyle. *Surround yourself with positive people. *Practice positive self-talk. Lastly, be aware of messages you’re passing onto your children. Don’t name-call, swear at them, or put them down. They’re just learning about themselves and things in life…encourage them to think positively too! Great legacies to pass on! (Surmised by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc./Source: By Carol Cochard Pool, MSW Prevent Child Abuse, IN

May 9th is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wednesday, May 9th, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. In fact, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Families and communities need to insure that the emotional health needs of children are being met, and need to insure that their own emotional health needs are being cared for. Often when we speak of mental health, people imagine extreme situations of mental illness or some type of detachment from reality. Although these types of situations occur, emotional issues are usually much less extreme, and positive mental health is something we should be practicing every day. Emotional issues can occur due to a sudden life change, like a death or some other type of loss, or they can be from some type of chemical imbalance. They can be short term, or in other situations they may linger. The bottom line is that mental health, just like physical health, is a huge spectrum on which many people may fall. Take every opportunity to maintain your emotional health, just as you would (should) your physical health. Get plenty of sleep, enjoy food, but be sure to primarily eat meals that are well-balanced…this advice is especially true for children, as it will help them in maintaining a healthy weight, as well as assisting in healthy brain development. Although it’s impossible to be positive all the time, maintaining a general positive outlook aids in stress management, and also is a wonderful trait to model for children. It is also beneficial for interpersonal relationships. Keep children’s self-esteem at its peak. Children need to be loved and praised, and let them know often what their strengths are. Even when a child is in need of discipline, it can be done in such a way that it is teaching the child, not just punishing. That also aids the child in learning how to deal with adverse situations in a more appropriate manner. Sometimes there are mental health issues that are more prolonged or serious. Professional guidance should be sought in those situations. There are wonderful therapies out there even for very young children. Mental health issues do not have the stigma they once held, and there are many resources available to assist both children and adults. It takes a great deal of strength to ask for help, and in the long run it will be beneficial to everyone in a family or community. For more information, please go to

Playground Safety

Monday, April 30, 2012

How can I keep my child safe on the playground? First, check if play equipment is safe. Ask yourself the following questions: • Is the equipment the right size? For example, smaller swings are for smaller children and can break if larger children use them. • Is the play equipment installed correctly and according to the manufacturer's directions? • Can children reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part? • What's underneath the equipment? The best way to prevent serious injuries is to have a surface that will absorb impact when children land on it. This is especially needed under and around swings, slides, and climbing equipment. • Is wooden play equipment free of splinters and nails or screws that stick out? Here are some other things to check for. Climbing structures • Platforms higher than 30 inches above the ground intended for use by school-aged children should have guardrails or barriers to prevent falls. • Vertical and horizontal spaces should be less than 3½ inches wide or more than 9 inches wide. This is to keep a small child's head from getting trapped. • Rungs, stairs, and steps should be evenly spaced. • Round rungs to be gripped by young hands should be about 1 to 1½ inches in diameter. Slides • Slides should be placed in the shade or away from the sun. Metal slides can get very hot from the sun and burn a child's hands and legs. Plastic slides are better because they do not get as hot, but they should still be checked before using. • Slides should have a platform with rails at the top for children to hold. There should be a guardrail, hood, or other device at the top of the slide that requires the child to sit when going down the slide. Open slides should have sides at least 4 inches high. • Make sure there are no rocks, glass, sticks, toys, debris, or other children at the base of a slide. These could get in the way of a child landing safely. The cleared area in front of the slide should extend a distance equal to the height of the slide platform, with a minimum of 6 feet and a maximum of 8 feet cleared. Swings • Swings should be clear of other equipment. Make sure there is a distance in front of and behind a swing that is twice the height of the suspending bar. • Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic, or canvas. • Make sure open or "S" hooks on swing chains are closed to form a figure 8. • Walls or fences should be located at least 6 feet from either side of a swing structure. • Swing sets should be securely anchored according to the manufacturer's instructions to prevent tipping. Anchors should be buried deep enough so that children can't trip or fall over them. • Swings should not be too close together. There should be at least 24 inches between swings and no more than 2 seat swings (or 1 tire swing) in the same section of the structure. Remember, even with these measures, children still need to be watched closely while they are playing. Source: Playground Safety (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Consistent Bedtime May Give Kids Developmental Boost

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Preschoolers should routinely get at least 11 hours each night, experts say. Sticking to a regular bedtime and getting enough sleep may help young children score higher on tests of development, a new study suggests. Kids who had a consistent bedtime at the age of 4 scored higher on a number of tests, including some that measured literacy and math abilities. Earlier bedtimes and parental rules about keeping bedtime routines also were associated with higher scores on developmental measures. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that preschool children get at least 11 hours of sleep each night. Kids who got less than that had lower test scores, according to study author Erika Gaylor, a researcher with SRI International, a research institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and colleagues. "Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," Gaylor said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Pediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviors which in turn lead to healthy sleep." The study is based on responses from phone interviews with the parents of about 8,000 kids. The parents were interviewed when the children were 9 months old and again when they were 4 years old. The findings are scheduled to be released Monday at SLEEP 2010, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio. More information The Nemours Foundation has tips for parents about kids and sleep. -- Randy Dotinga SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 7, 2010

STD’s…Parents it may be time to talk!

Monday, April 16, 2012

WebMD says young people are starting sex younger, and having more partners…and that is why more of them are getting STDs earlier. Is it time for one of many talks about STDs? OK, we all agree this is not a topic we WANT to discuss with our kids…BUT WE HAVE TO. It’s unlikely to come up on TV or in a song, so come prepared with hands-on pamphlets, or have the conversation at the computer. Here are some conversation starters: Did you know: 1. 1 in 4 teens have an STD? 2. People can pass it on, without even knowing they HAVE it? 3. STD’s in women can cause cancer OR make them infertile? 4. People are still dying from HIV/AIDS? 5. WebMD has some actual photos of STD, to look at together. It’s good to know MOST STDs (STI-infections) can be cured with medicine. And, WebMD has some good photos to look at together. But the best way to prevent is to not have any sexual contact. If couples are going to become sexually active, they can reduce their chances of getting an STD by: 1. Be abstinent for as long as possible or be in a monogamous relationship (both partners are each other’s only partner.) 2. Remember the more partners, the more risk. 3. Correctly and consistently use a male latex condom. 4. Have regular check-ups. 5. Learn the symptoms of STDs 6. Avoid having sex during menstruation. (HIV is passed more easily.) 7. Avoid anal sex or use a condom. 8. Avoid douching. It removes some natural protection. This and so much more information about this topic can be found at conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases By Carol Cochard Pool, M.S.W.

April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Awareness Month

Monday, April 9, 2012

Supporting families by ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need is an effective way to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect. What do we know about protecting children? • When a parent treats a child with respect, love, and understanding, it affects the child for a lifetime—making it easier to develop and keep friendships, succeed in school and work, sustain a happy relationship, and parent effectively. • Unfortunately, many factors can limit parents' ability to protect and nurture their children. These can put families at risk for abuse and neglect. • Certain factors have been shown to serve as buffers against these risks, enhancing parents' coping skills and helping them to raise happy, healthy children, even under stress. • On average, children raised in households headed by two parents in a healthy relationship fare better than children who grow up in other family structures. What are the protective factors that promote healthy families?
The best thing our community can do to protect children is to support healthy families by promoting the following five protective factors: Nurturing and attachment Parents and caregivers who bond with and respond to the basic needs of their babies and young children lay the foundation for a positive and loving relationship. They also stimulate the growth of their child's brain and help their child learn how to interact in positive ways with others. Ways we can promote parental nurturing and attachment during Child Abuse Prevention Month: • Sponsor a workshop on playing with infants and young children. • Provide quiet, private places for mothers to breastfeed and tend to their babies' needs. • Organize a weekend play group for dads. • Recognize local businesses with family-friendly policies, such as flexible work schedules and maternity/paternity leave that give parents time to bond with their children. Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development Helping parents learn about normal infant, childhood, and teen development will help them understand what to anticipate as their children grow and develop, and what types of support and discipline may work best at each stage. Ways we can enhance knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development: • Suggest parents speak to their children's doctor about any concerns, frustrations, or questions regarding behavior or development. • Ask your local school district or faith community to sponsor classes and support programs for new parents. • Organize a parenting club to discuss parenting books, websites, and other resources. • Educate childcare providers and teachers about key aspects of child development and the relationship between effective parenting and brain development. Parental resilience Parenting can be stressful, especially when parents are also managing work demands or unemployment, financial worries, illness, or difficulties with a spouse or others. Parents who have support and skills for managing stress will be better able to cope with day-to-day challenges. Ways we can strengthen parental resilience: • Organize a neighborhood group that will rotate cooking a meal or performing light housework for new parents and other families under stress. • Start a neighborhood "work out" group, where families can exercise and have fun together. • Teach a communication class for couples. • Provide brochures and other resources for teachers and childcare providers to share with parents who are under significant stress. Social connections For most of us, family, friends, and neighbors form a network that provides social interaction, recreation, advice, and help. When parents have the opportunity to interact with, learn from, and seek the support of other adults, their children benefit. Ways we can build social connections in our community: • Sponsor multigenerational activities like picnics and street fairs that reflect the community's culture through music, food, and games. Involve parents in organizing these events. • Help recruit volunteers for mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. • Provide venues for young families to meet and socialize, such as libraries, parks, and preschools. Concrete supports for parents When parents are not employed or face other challenges, they may need assistance in order to provide adequate food, clothing, housing, and medical care for their children. These supports may reduce the stress parents feel in difficult circumstances, giving them more energy to nurture and support their children. Ways we can promote concrete supports: • Provide information on how to access housing, health care, or employment assistance. • Educate candidates and elected officials about issues in your community and the need for services and programs that support healthy and safe children and families. • Encourage service providers to collaborate, leverage funding, and share resources to address specific needs. Anything you do to support kids and parents in your family and community helps reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Spiritual Development in Children

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure, and, therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things which older people miss." ~ Black Elk, Native American spiritual teacher Children have a natural curiosity about spiritual matters, and may ask questions that adults don’t know how to answer. My own experience as the Children’s Minister at an Indianapolis church taught me that kids often ask such questions because they already have their own answer in mind. When a child asks you a tough question such as “where do we go when we die?” take a moment to pause. You don’t have to answer that question immediately. Instead, consider responding with: “That’s an interesting question. What do you think is the answer?” Listen carefully; you will learn a lot. Here are some other tips from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, authors of “Encouraging Children’s Spirituality.” Spiritual practices aren’t just for adults. Children come naturally to many of the time-honored ways that people use to get closer to the sacred; to family, friends, and community; and to the world around them. They can teach adults about being present, enthusiasm, imagination, play, and wonder—to name just a few. Here are some ideas for how parents and other adults can encourage children’s spirituality. • Give thanks before you eat, not just for the food, but also for everything that contributed to your having this meal--the earth, the rain, the sun, the farmer, the store, the cook, even the cooking equipment. Gratitude is an essential spiritual practice. • When watching television or a video, choose a favorite or interesting character and “step into the story” to see how you would act in his or her place. This exercise uses imagination and supports compassion for others and hospitality toward the media. • When doing chores, such as picking up toys or putting away the dishes, imagine that you are returning these things to their homes where they will be more comfortable. Reframing chores in this way teaches reverence for your surroundings, kindness, and nurturing. • Experiment with silence by lying on the ground for 15 minutes without saying anything. Pay attention to what you are thinking about. Then notice the reports of your senses of sight and smell. This is the practice of wonder. • Practice meaning by choosing symbolic names for your home and your room. • Create a party for your pet. Indulge the animal with a favorite treat or activity. Name some of the lessons you have learned from living with this teacher. • At bedtime, identify one good thing and one bad thing that has happened during the day. For children, these are times to practice enthusiasm and forgiveness. For parents, these are opportunities to practice openness and listening. • Have a moon-viewing party, complete with special food and costumes appropriate to the season of the year. Talk about the beauty of the natural world. Then imagine how the moon sees the world, an exercise that teaches connections and the unity of all Creation.

March - Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Monday, March 5, 2012

More than 90 percent of the time, poisonings happen in people’s homes. The majority of these poisonings occur in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. That is why it is important to follow simple steps to prevent a poisoning from happening at home. Teach your family to never touch or put anything in their mouths unless they know what it is. Below are additional tips on how to keep poisonous items safe in your home. Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned, immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center. • Keep medicines in their original containers, properly labeled, and store them appropriately. • Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces. • Keep products in their original containers. Do not use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products. • Some art products are mixtures of chemicals. They can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure children use art products safely by reading and following directions. • Do not eat or drink while using art products. • Wash skin after contact with art products. Clean equipment. Wipe tables, desks, and counters. • Keep art products in their original containers. • Wash hands and counters before preparing all food. • Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F (5 degrees C). • Use clean utensils for cooking and serving. • Know what poisonous snakes live in your area and wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors. • Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities. • Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. Remember when it comes to poison ivy, "leaves of three, let it be." If you or someone you know may have been poisoned, call the toll-free line right away at 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center. If the person is not breathing, call 911. Do not wait for signs of a poisoning before calling the Poison Help line. When you call, you will speak with a poison expert at your poison center. From

PCAIN 2012 Breaking the Cycle Conference

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Each year, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana works hard to bring together experts in the field of child abuse prevention and provide informational, motivational and educational sessions for its annual "Breaking the Cycle Conference". Mark your calendars now for April 3rd for what promises to be a great event! This year's theme is "Cherishing Children, Raising Hope" and it will bring Educational Cons...ultant Dr. Ray Golarz and Inspirational Educator & Author Stacey Bess to the conference as the keynote speakers. This year, the event will be held at the Hilton Indianapolis North Hotel. The complete brochure and online registration is available on our website ~ Your staff may need CEU’s – this year we are offering to the LSW’s and LCSW’s FREE CEU’s. But for those that just need training hours -- Training certificates will be available at the conference. If you are not interested or unable to attend and know someone who might be interested, please feel free to forward this message to them.

Parenting Teens

Monday, February 20, 2012

You can help your teen between the ages of 15 and 18 years by using basic parenting strategies. These include offering open, positive communication while providing clear and fair rules and consistent guidance. Support your teen in developing healthy habits and attitudes, help him or her make wise choices, and offer guidance in how to balance responsibilities. The following are examples of ways to promote healthy growth and development in specific areas. But remember that many growth and development issues overlap. For example, having a healthy body image is important for physical development and emotional development. Use these ideas as a starting point to help your teen make good choices that will help him or her grow into a healthy and happy adult. Promote your teen's physical development by doing the following: • Be aware of changing sleep patterns. Rapidly growing and busy teens need a lot of sleep. The natural sleeping pattern for many teens is to go to bed later at night and sleep in. This can make it hard to get up for school. To help your teen get enough rest, discourage phone and computer use and TV watching after a certain evening hour. Sleep: Helping Your Children-and Yourself-Sleep Well • Teach your teen how to take care of his or her skin. Most young people get at least mild acne. Help your teen manage acne with daily facial care and, if needed, medicines. Also have your teen avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. Sunburn can damage a child's skin for a lifetime and put him or her at risk for skin cancer. Studies suggest that UV rays from artificial sources such as tanning beds and sunlamps are just as dangerous as UV rays from the sun. For more information, see the topics Acne and Skin Cancer, Melanoma. • Talk about body image. What teens think about their bodies greatly affects their feelings of self-worth. Stress that healthy eating and exercise habits are most important for the short and long term. Help your teen recognize that television and other media often produce unrealistic images of the ideal body that are not healthy. For more information, see the topic Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, or Depression in Children and Teens. • Help your teen choose healthy foods. By eating a wide variety of basic foods, your teen can get the nutrients he or she needs for normal growth. And he or she will be well-nourished. Help your teen choose healthy snacks, make wise food choices at fast food restaurants, and not skip meals, especially breakfast. Make a point to eat as many meals together at home as possible. A regular mealtime gives you and your family a chance to talk and relax together. It also helps you and your child to have a positive relationship with food. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating for Children. • Offer strategies to avoid tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Set firm, fair, and consistent limits for your child. Help him or her understand the immediate and long-lasting results of substance use, such as falling grades and poor health during adulthood. Practice how to respond when a harmful substance is offered, such as simply stating "No, thanks" and moving on to another subject. If you believe your teenager is using drugs or alcohol, it is important to talk about it. Discuss how he or she gets the alcohol, tobacco, or drugs and in what kind of setting it is used. Seek advice from a doctor if the behavior continues. Promote your teen's healthy emotional and social development by doing the following: • Address problems and concerns. Build trust gradually so your teen will feel safe talking with you about sensitive subjects. When you want to talk with your teen about problems or concerns, schedule a "date" in a private and quiet place. Knowing when and how to interfere in a teen's life is a major ongoing challenge of parenthood. Parents walk a fine line between respecting a teen's need for independence and privacy and making sure that teens do not make mistakes that have lifelong consequences. • Understand the confusion about sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexuality is a core aspect of identity. Hormones, cultural and peer pressures, and fear of being different can cause many teens to question themselves in many areas, including sexual orientation. It is normal during the teen years to have same-sex "crushes." Consider mentioning to your teen that having such an attraction does not mean that these feelings will last. But it is helpful to acknowledge that in some cases, these feelings grow stronger over time rather than fade. • Encourage community service. Both your teen and community members are helped when your teen volunteers. Your teen gets the chance to explore how he or she connects with others. While helping peers, adults, and other people, your teen can gain new skills and new ways of looking at things. He or she can also develop and express personal values and explore career options. Your teen can benefit most by thinking back on the service experience and figuring out what he or she learned from it. • Help your child build a strong sense of self-worth to help him or her act responsibly, cooperate well with others, and have the confidence to try new things. Promote your teen's mental (cognitive) development by doing the following: • Encourage mature ways of thinking. Involve your teen in setting household rules and schedules. Talk about current issues together, whether it be school projects or world affairs. Listen to your teen's opinions and thoughts. Brainstorm different ways to solve problems, and discuss their possible outcomes. Stress that these years provide many opportunities to reinvent and improve themselves. • Offer to help your teen set work and school priorities. Make sure your teen understands the need to schedule enough rest, carve out study time, eat nourishing foods, and get regular physical activity. • Be goal-oriented instead of style-oriented. Your teen may not complete a task the way you would. This is okay. What is important is that the task gets done. Let your teen decide how to complete work, and always assume that he or she wants to do a good job. • Continue to enjoy music, art, reading, and creative writing with your teen. For example, encourage your teen to listen to a variety of music, play a musical instrument, draw, or write a story. These types of activities can help teens learn to think and express themselves in new ways. Teens may discover a new or stronger interest, which may help their self-esteem. Remind your teen that he or she doesn't need to be an expert. Simply learning about and experimenting with art can help your teen think in more abstract ways and pull different concepts together. Promote your teen's sensory and motor development by doing the following: • Encourage daily exercise. Vigorous exercise, such as running, biking, or playing soccer or basketball, helps your teen to stay lean and to have a healthy heart.1 Vigorous exercise also helps your teen feel good. If your child is not used to exercise, be careful about expecting too much too soon. Overdoing it at first can make your teen feel tired or discouraged or can even cause injury. Help your teen to build up an exercise routine slowly. For example, plan a short daily walk to start. This approach can help your teen gain confidence and make him or her more likely to keep exercising. Violence and teens • Prevent teen violence by being a good role model. It's important to model and talk to your child about healthy relationships, because dating abuse is common among teens. For example, talk calmly during a disagreement with someone else. Help your teen come up with ways to defuse potentially violent situations, such as making a joke or acknowledging another person's point of view. Praise him or her for avoiding a confrontation. You might say "I'm proud of you for staying calm." Also, to help your child limit exposure to violence, closely supervise the Web sites and computer games that he or she uses. For more information on teen violence, see the topics Bullying, Domestic Abuse, and/or Anger, Hostility, and Violent Behavior. • Reduce the risk of teen suicide and recognize the warning signs. If your teen shows signs of depression, such as withdrawing from others and being sad much of the time, try to get him or her to talk about it. Call your doctor if your teen ever mentions suicide or if you are concerned for his or her safety. INFORMATION FROM WEBMD